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Understanding the catalytic activity of oxides through their electronic structure and surface chemistry

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dc.contributor.advisor Yang Shao-Horn. en_US Stoerzinger, Kelsey A. (Kelsey Ann) en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering. en_US 2016-09-13T18:06:17Z 2016-09-13T18:06:17Z 2016 en_US 2016 en_US
dc.description Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 2016. en_US
dc.description This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_US
dc.description.abstract The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources requires a clean, scalable means of converting and storing energy. Water electrolysis can sustainably achieve this goal by storing energy in the bonds of oxygen and hydrogen molecules. The efficiency of this storage-conversion process is largely determined by the kinetic overpotential required for the oxygen evolution and reduction reactions (OER and ORR), respectively. This thesis focuses on transition metal oxides as alternative oxygen catalysts to costly and scarce noble metals. In order to develop descriptors to improve catalytic activity, thus reducing material cost for commercial technologies, this work studies fundamental processes that occur on model catalyst systems. Electrochemical studies of epitaxial oxide thin films establish the intrinsic activity of oxide catalysts in a way that cannot be realized with polydisperse nanoparticle systems. This thesis has isolated the activity of the catalyst on a true surface-area basis, enabling an accurate comparison of catalyst chemistries, and also revealed how different terminations and structures affect the kinetics. These studies of epitaxial thin films are among the first to probe phenomena that are not straightforward to isolate in nanoparticles, such as the role of oxide band structure, interfacial charge transfer (the "ligand" effect), strain, and crystallographic orientation. In addition, these well-defined surfaces allow spectroscopic examinations of their chemical speciation in an aqueous environment by using ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. By quantifying the formation of hydroxyl groups, we compare the relative affinity of different surfaces for this key reaction intermediate in oxygen electrocatalysis. The strength of interaction with hydroxyls correlates inversely with activity, illustrating detrimental effects of strong water interactions at the catalyst surface. This fundamental insight brings molecular understanding to the wetting of oxide surfaces, as well as the role of hydrogen bonding in catalysis. Furthermore, understanding of the mechanisms of oxygen electrocatalysis guides the rational design of high-surface-area oxide catalysts for technical application. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Kelsey A. Stoerzinger. en_US
dc.format.extent 181 pages en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Materials Science and Engineering. en_US
dc.title Understanding the catalytic activity of oxides through their electronic structure and surface chemistry en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Ph. D. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 958136229 en_US

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